We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Oliver Aveogan Leavitt. He was one of our respected Iñupiaq relatives, a neighbor and friend to the NANA region, and one of the giants of Alaska.
The results of his life remain. As an umialik — a whaling captain — he led his crew and together they shared their harvest widely. As a lifelong resident of Utqiaġvik, he was known for his fierce commitment to community and culture. He and his wife, Annie Leavitt, were married for more than 50 years – his family runs deep, and his network of friends wide.
After being part of the movement that fought to secure Alaska Native land rights in the 1970s, Oliver began a lifetime of work and service with Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC). He built relationships in Juneau and Washington, D.C., and around the world so that people back at home could prosper. He worked hard to balance Iñupiat connections and responsibilities to the land with economic and development opportunities. In recent years he helped to support education and Native participation in the public sphere through his work with the First Alaskans Institute.
His laugh was legendary, he was tough as nails. Ollie will be missed.
From NANA — we extend our deepest condolences and truly heartfelt prayers to Oliver’s friends and family in the North Slope region and beyond. Quyanaqpak, Aveogan.
Pictured: At Nalukataq, the celebration of a successful whale hunt, Christina and Larry Westlake, Chuck and Marie Greene and Willie Hensley were guests of Oliver Leavitt, second from the right. (Willie Hensley photo)